Culture
Music
My KEXPORT Adventure

My KEXPORT Adventure

Words by

Published August 2, 2012

Icelandic reggae? Why not? Icelandic hip hop? You know it’s going to be good. At least, I do now. If there’s anything I’ve learned over four trips to Iceland, it’s not to be surprised by the quality of Icelandic music, no matter what the genre. While there are many reasons I’d like to be visiting Iceland, that’s the one reason that keeps drawing me back.
As an employee of an independent radio station (KEXP in Seattle), I’m exposed to quite a lot of music, but there’s something about the Icelandic music scene that is specifically hard to identify and impossible to ignore. Undoubtedly, there are great bands everywhere, in every continent, in the U.S., in Seattle, in other Nordic countries, but at least at our station we have yet to find anywhere with such a high concentration of talent and diversity. Maybe that’s due to Iceland’s compact size, the higher cultural value Icelanders place on education and the arts in general or, as RÚV Channel 2’s Program Director, Ólafur Páll Gunnarsson, suggested, the weather. In Seattle, we too are overhung with dark winter days, the kind that encourage indoor activities like reading, painting or playing in a band, and that certainly contribute to our relatively high literacy rate as well. But even with Seattle’s own storied musical past and wealth of great bands new and old, we are constantly astonished by the quantity and quality of Iceland’s bands. 
And that’s why our Seattle-based radio station has come back to Iceland for the past several years and has just last year conducted our very first broadcast outside of the United States in Reykjavík during the Iceland Airwaves festival last year. When our friends at the KEX Hostel, which hosted our broadcast, and whose name in conveniently similar to our own (though we spell out the letters individually), decided to throw a party in our shared name, we were thrilled. Sporting a marathon line-up of twelve bands in twelve hours, KEXPORT featured many artists that we’ve been fortunate to host, record or film over the years: Agent Fresco and Sudden Weather Change, the two very first bands we recorded back in 2009; Snorri Helgason, one of the few Icelandic artists we’ve been able to host at our station in Seattle; as well as Hjálmar, Sóley, Kiriyama Family, and The Heavy Experience, all bands we heard and recorded for the first time last year. And if there was said to be a headliner, it would have to have been Ghostigital, fronted by the venerable godfather of Icelandic punk, who also happened to be the host of the 2009 sessions we recorded at RÚV… and who kept calling us “kex-pee” (that’s “biscuit-pee” for all of you non-Icelandic speakers). So for us, KEXPORT was the culmination of the times we’ve spent in Iceland, a bringing together of our accumulated friends, just as the party was a gathering of locals and their friends.  
For me, though, the true pleasure of coming back to Iceland to represent KEXP at KEXPORT grew out of my anticipation of discovering even more new bands. I wasn’t concerned that I hadn’t yet heard four of the dozen bands scheduled for the party because I knew from experience that they would undoubtedly be good. Tilbury I had listened to repeatedly over the previous week, but was eager to hear how the moody Brit-pop influenced debut, “Exorcise,” would translate live (brilliantly, of course). Human Woman and Dream Central Station were completely new to me and they certainly didn’t disappoint either. Human Woman seemed at first a comedy routine until the electronic duo of Gísli Galdur and Jón Atli Helgason launched into their captivating set of glitchy dance pop. Dream Central Station’s reverbed rock reminded me of The Jesus & Mary Chain backing The Vaselines, it’s a sound I personally prefer, but the biggest surprise for me was Úlfur Úlfur, a hip hop trio whose spot-on gesturing might be considered mere imitation if they hadn’t managed to pour so much heart and energy into their performance. They were perhaps the biggest draw of the day. Why I was surprised, I don’t know. I should have been around Icelandic musicians enough to realise that no matter how improbable the combination—last year for me it was Icelandic reggae—the musicianship, the display of talent, the unique and unquantifiable element that gives any genre performed by Icelanders a uniquely Icelandic twist, would shine through. Just as Hjálmar last year proved to me that Ísland music is island music, Úlfur Úlfur showed everyone at the hostel that hip hop’s soul is universal. 
I don’t know what to expect from you next year, Iceland, but do I expect it will be one of the best things I’ve ever heard.



Culture
Music
Happening This Weekend November 28-30

Happening This Weekend November 28-30

by

Friday Sun Kil Moon With everything that’s going on today, we don’t blame you for not realising that motherfucking Mark Kozelek is coming to town, and he’s playing a show that you can go to! Don’t just take our word for why you should go, listen to what fellow fan Chris Sea thinks of him. -Fríkirkja at 20:30, 5,900 ISK Ylja Album Release Concert This alternative acoustic folk group has been turning heads as of late, and are celebrating the release of their new album. They combine vocal harmonies with soft acoustic riffs to create a soothing ambient sound, equally at home playing tenderly

Culture
Music
Carry Me, Mark Kozelek

Carry Me, Mark Kozelek

by

Sun Kil Moon, the notorious North Korean dictator, ordered the execution of a series of puffins by firing squad as an apparent snub to a cooling of Iceland-DPRK relations, reports KCNA. “They don’t belong on our plates”, said the DPRK’s Taskforce on the Creation of Food Abundance, apparently caught unawares by a certain irony. Just kidding. Sun Kil Moon, real name Mark Kozelek, is playing Reykjavík this Friday. He has been in my memory since 2004, when my mother took my brother and I with her decades of savings to Greece on a family outing. At Paris – Charles De

Culture
Music
HOLY SHIT DOOMRIDERS ARE IN TOWN!

HOLY SHIT DOOMRIDERS ARE IN TOWN!

by

Hey guess what! Doomriders are back in town! And they’re playing Húrra tonight! This seminal metal band tore our faces off and shook our guts to the core when they burned down Grand Rokk eight years ago (with the help of I Adapt). That show certainly left a mark on a lot of people in Iceland’s metal scene (much like the 2004 Iðnó appearance by Doomriders’ stalwart Nate Newton’s other band, the mighty Converge), so much that noted hater Bogi Bjarnason is even excited for the show. This is what he told us: To wrap your weekend up on a high note,

Culture
Music
GY!BE, Deafheaven, Mudhoney AND MORE For ATP 2015

GY!BE, Deafheaven, Mudhoney AND MORE For ATP 2015

by

While some of you have barely gotten over Airwaves, the news just keep rolling in for next year’s SUMMER MUSIC FESTIVALS! So, imagine you’re at All Tomorrow’s Parties , the  sun is beaming down on your face as you close your eyes and hug your friends, laughing jovially at how lovely life is, while your ears are being made love to by Canadian post rock LEGENDS: Godspeed You! Black Emperor. YEAH! They will be joined by (drum roll please): Belle and Sebastian Run The Jewels Mudhoney Deafheaven Iceage Loop Chelsea Wolfe The Field White Hills Ghostigital Vision Fortune Younghusband Tall Firs

Culture
Music
Carcass Announced For Eistnaflug 2015

Carcass Announced For Eistnaflug 2015

by

Metal pioneers Carcass and heavy metal stalwarts Kvelertak were added today to Iceland’s annual Eistnaflug metal festival’s lineup. The festival is held each year in Neskaupsstaður, but announced that it’s upping its ante this year, inhabiting a bigger venue and with more tickets available. Carcass originated in Liverpool, England and have been playing since 1985 and are considered by many the founders of grindcore, as well as being credited with influencing the melodic death metal movement. Last year they released their sixth studio album, ‘Surgical Steel,’ which is their first in seventeen years. The complete lineup for Eistnaflug is as follows: Agent Fresco (IS)

Culture
Music
Markéta Irglová Plays in Harpa Concert Hall tonight

Markéta Irglová Plays in Harpa Concert Hall tonight

by

Academy Award winning musician Markéta Irglová will play at Harpa concert hall tonight as part the final step of her two-month tour around Europe and North America. Markéta first came to prominence as a seventeen year old in the Irish feature film ‘Once.’ The film ended up claiming the 2006 Academy Award for Best Original Song and Marketa subsequently toured for years with her co-star Glen Hansard under the banner of “The Swell Season”. In more recent times Iceland has become Markéta’s adopted home, and her new album ‘Remember’ was entirely written here. “I came to Iceland for the first time with

Show Me More!